The U.S. Supreme Court refused on Monday to consider appeals by Kansas and Louisiana to court decisions that blocked their ability to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving medicaid funding.
The court's rejection leaves intact lower court rulings in both states which blocked the states from disallowing Medicaid money to be used for health care services at Planned Parenthood, NPR reported. However, federal law prohibits the use of Medicaid money for abortions.
Conservative Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented from the denial of certiorari. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined with the court's liberals in voting to deny the petition for a writ of certiorari. A petition for certiorari requires four votes before the case may be heard by the Supreme Court.
"These cases are not about abortion rights," Thomas wrote for the dissenters, according to reports. "So what explains the court's refusal to do its job here? I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named 'Planned Parenthood.'"
"Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty," he added.
What's the issue?
The issue is about whether or not a state, individual or the federal government has a right to challenge how a state decides to use Medicaid funds.
Medicaid is a joint venture between federal and state governments which provides money for health care services for lower-income Americans.
A legal battle between the states and Planned Parenthood ensued after controversial videos were released by a pro-life group in 2015 that showed organization officials offering to sell fetal body parts.
Following the release of the videos, Louisiana and Kansas sued to block the use of Medicaid for all services at Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood provides more abortions than any other health care provider in the U.S. In 2016, it performed 321,384 abortions, according to the group's annual report.
Lower courts had ruled that states could not refuse to allow Planned Parenthood to receive Medicaid funds, which led the states to file a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court.